I got off work late today. I’m trying to make up for yesterday, both in project completed (and I kicked some major butt at work today) and in time lost because I really don’t have that much vacation or personal time and I’m going to need a lot of it for the holidays and various doctor appointments before the end of the year. When I got outside, it was already dark.
I called Justin. “Justin! Where’d the sun go?!”
“Yeah, that left like 20-30 minutes ago.”
“Dang! It’s dark!”
And this really shouldn’t be surprising to either of us. I mean, we grew up in the north where it’s dark by 4:00 or earlier in the middle of winter. And it doesn’t get light until after 8:00 in the morning. It’s crazy dark! It’s one of the major reasons why we love living in the south—there’s light!
But I was standing at the pump at the gas station just after getting off the phone with Justin and thinking about the dark. I don’t like the dark; it freaks me out a little bit. I’m not ashamed of the night lights scattered throughout our whole house. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m afraid of the dark.
But I was thinking about was just the strangeness that we can function almost like normal in the dark hours as we can in the light. We have the technology to light up the area where we’re spending time in order to see clearly even though the earth has rotated so we’re out of sight of the sun. It’s cool! The whole light pollution thing bothers me sometimes, especially when I’m flying and it’s so clear to see how much light humanity puts out on the night. But it’s still really cool that we have the technology to push back the darkness and extend our day.
And as I was standing there, waiting for my fantastically inexpensive gas to fill my teeny-tiny little car tank, the strange switch clicked on in my brain and I thought, “What if the sun didn’t come back?” And I went down this thought trail about how messed up the world would be if it was dark all the time. If we could never see the blue sky ever again, what would that be like? In cities where the stars aren’t visible because of all the ambient light, what would life become? Ignoring all the basic issues, like how the world would function without the photosynthetic process to provide oxygen and food for the population, just what would life look like if it was night all day?
There’s a novelty to it. Lightening storms would be much more amazing. But I decided that I really wouldn’t like it very much. Not just because I’m already afraid of the dark, but because I would miss so many things about the daylight. Like rainbows and sun-warmed blankets and being able to see for miles from the tops of mountains. And because I worry that in the absence of light, those things that we fear—violence and theft and the like—would become more prevalent. I fear the secrecy that darkness can provide for too many people.
So I’m sitting in my candle-lit house (Justin lit them for me before I got home), sitting at my desk with my lamp, looking at the darkness outside my windows. And I’m glad that when I wake up in the morning, even if it isn’t quite light yet, I know that the sun will lighten up that horizon before I make it all the way to work. And even if I get off work late again and the sun has already set before I leave, hopefully I’ll have time to step outside and enjoy the sunshine a little at some point during the day. It’s something I try to appreciate, the sunshine, but I don’t often think of why I appreciate it. “It’s good stuff,” I think, but I don’t think about why that is.
It’s because if it wasn’t light, it’d be dark. And I wouldn’t like that much at all.